1. PROGRESS

    El Salvador Murder Rate Down

    Mara Salvatrucha gang members attend a mass celebrated by Archbishop Luigi Pezzuto, Apostolic Nuncio to El Salvador, and head army and police chaplain Monsignor Fabio Colindres at a prison in Ciudad Barrios, El Salvador, Monday, March 26, 2012. According to Dionisio Aristides Umanzor, known as El Sirra, leader of the Mara Salvatrucha gang, leaders of the Mara Salvatrucha and the Mara 18, El Salvador's two largest street gangs, have reached a truce, reducing the country's homicide rate, one of the highest in the world. (AP Photo/Luis Romero)

    Luis Romero / AP Photo

    Deaths are down in El Salvador—declared the most murderous country in the world last year—after the country’s two biggest gangs called a truce. The Central American nation’s gangs evolved in the 1980s, having been established by immigrants in the United States and then expanding into full-blown criminal franchises when members were deported back to El Salvador. This March leaders of Calle 18 and Mara Salvatrucha, the country’s two largest and most dangerous street gangs, joined forces and released a joint statement declaring their commitment to ending violence, pledging to stop recruiting new members. “We’ve been through things that have changed us. It is a waste of life,” said one of Calle 18’s senior members from prison. “We aren’t demobilizing. We’ll always be gangsters. But we are quitting crime little by little as long as we can find jobs and a chance to re-enter society.” Whether or not that’s possible, their plan to decrease the violence has been working. El Salvador’s murder rate has dropped from over 12 killings a day to five, and in April the country marked its first murder-free day in three years.

    Read it at Reuters